J-1 Academic Training

J-1 Academic Training (AT)

Academic Training is a type of off-campus work authorization for employment in a J-1 student's field of study (does not need to be an “academic” job).

  • is available to J-1 Degree-seeking and Education Abroad Program (EAP) students
  • is a type of off-campus work authorization for employment in a student's field of study (not required to be an "academic" job)
  • must be authorized by the J-1 student's program sponsor (the institution that issues the DS-2019). Students sponsored by UC Berkeley must request authorization from Berkeley International Office. Students who are sponsored by institutions other than UC Berkeley (such as Fulbright, LASPAU etc.) should check with that sponsor for information on Academic Training eligibility.

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Eligibility

Degree-Seeking & Education Abroad Program (EAP) Students

  • must have completed at least one semester on J-1 status.
  • can be used before or after completion of program.
    • Before completion of degree/program, AT can be part-time (maximum of 20 hours per week) during the fall & spring semesters or full-time in the summer.
    • After completion of program, AT must be a minimum of 20 hours per week.
    • Available full-time for graduate students who have advanced to Ph.D candidacy and the work is integral to the completion of their academic degree.
  • must have a job offer in hand BEFORE the completion of study.
  • can be used for paid or unpaid internships or jobs. If AT is unpaid, the student must submit a letter from the employer AND provide proof of financial support in the amount of $2,100/month for living expenses during the training period.
  • allows for more than one job at a time, as long as all are related to the student's field of study and separate AT request forms are submitted. If changing employers while on AT, there cannot be a gap in employment dates.
  • must begin within thirty (30) days of the program completion date. However, time authorized for Academic Training will begin counting the day after program completion.
  • Special MBA Exchange Program J-1 students are not eligible for academic training.

Duration of AT

Degree-Seeking Students

  • Available for a total of eighteen (18) months or for a period equal to the length of the study program, whichever is shorter.
  • Can be extended only for postdoctoral researchers up to a maximum total of thirty-six (36) months. Students may apply for the extension at any time before the expiration of their eighteen (18)-month academic training so long as the AT has a research component as verified by the faculty advisor on the reverse side of this form.

Education Exchange Program (EAP) Students

  • One semester (Fall or Spring) students are allowed four (4) months of Academic Training after the semester is completed.
  • Two semester students (Fall and Spring) are eligible for a total of nine (9) months of Academic Training & may begin AT after completing one semester.
  • Students who begin in the spring term and will continue to the Fall term may also use Academic Training to work off-campus during the summer between semesters or after completing the second (Fall) semester, not to exceed a total of nine (9) months.

Application Deadline

Submit the application for Academic Training to Berkeley International Office at least three (3) working days before completion of the academic program & before the DS-2019 expires. The completion date may or may not be the same as the end date on your DS-2019. "Completion" is defined as:

  • Undergraduates - the last day of final exams of the semester you are graduating
  • Graduates - the day degree requirements are fulfilled such as passing final exams or filing a dissertation
  • EAP Reciprocity - the last day of final exams of your last semester in the program.

Instructions for Requesting Academic Training

  1. Obtain Health Insurance that meets U.S. State Department J-1 requirements for themselves and ALL J-2 dependents for the duration of the J-1 program, including Academic Training. Failure to maintain sufficient health insurance will result in termination of the J-1/J-2 record.
  2. Complete the Academic Training Request Form.
  3. Obtain signatures on the Academic Training Request Form from the college, department or faculty advisor for each employment offer. EAP Students should also check with their home institution to confirm that post-completion AT will not impact their home country program of study.
  4. Submit Academic Training Request Form and the following attachments to Berkeley International Office:
    • For post-completion AT only: $100 Post-Completion Services Fee proof of payment: Attach credit/debit receipt, check or money order. The Post-Completion Services Fee covers advising and support services provided during and up to the first 18-month period (or any part thereof) of AT. Extensions past 18 months will incur an additional fee.
      • Credit/Debit Card: Click here to make your payment online via our secure portal. You must print your receipt/proof of payment and attach it to your AT DS-2019 Request form.
      • Check or Money Order: Make check or money order payable to order of "UC Regents" and write your Student ID Number in the notes/memo section; attach your check or money order to the OPT I-20 Request form (see Step 3).
    • Offer/employment letter: Letter should be a signed by the employer on letterhead including: Company name and address, student’s job title and job description, dates of employment, hours per week, salary (if paid) and supervisor name, title, email and phone.
    • Proof of Funding: You must show Financial documents showing at least $2100/month for the duration of your AT. If your offer letter already shows this, then you do not need to submit additional funding documents.
  • If applicable, additional funding proof for dependents at $600/month for spouse and $300/month per child for the duration of your AT.
  • Pick up your new DS-2019 Academic Training authorization from Berkeley International Office in three (3) business days.
  • A copy of the DS-2019 with the AT annotation should be given to the employer and can also be used to apply for a Social Security Number. For information on the Social Security Number application, see How to Apply for a Social Security Number.

    Employment Rules While on AT

    Reporting Requirements

    The following information must be reported to Berkeley International Office during the post-completion Academic Training period of authorization within 10 days of any changes:

    • Your residential address
    • Your phone and email address
    • If ending Academic Training early- Date of exiting the U.S. (You must provide date of exit if you decide to exit the U.S and complete your OPT status prior to the end date of your OPT)
    • If your visa status changes while on Academic Training
    • You must submit a Final Evaluation at the end of your AT period

    Update your address and employment information to Berkeley International Office online through our Student SEVIS Update (SSU) form. 

    BIO SSU Hub Reporting System
    While on AT, you are required to keep your SEVIS record up-to-date and report certain information to maintain your F-1 status (see more details below). You will use BIO's online Student SEVIS Update (SSU) Hub to update your address and personal information, report early completion or changing your visa status, and to submit a Final Evaluation at the end of your AT. The information you enter into the SSU Hub will be stored and maintained by Berkeley International Office and is used only for reporting to SEVIS, as mandated by federal regulations.

    Creating an SSU Hub Account
    When accessing the SSU Hub for the first time, you'll need to "Create an account" using your Student ID Number, SEVIS ID Number (the N00... on the top of your I-20), and an email that you will continue to have access to. If using a Berkeley email, please make sure that you won't lose access to it (you can "claim" it here). You will be able to create your own password. Please retain this for future logins.

    For future logins, you'll need your Student ID number, SEVIS ID number, and the password you created. If you need to re-set your password, you can do so yourself (the password re-set information will be sent to the email address that you originally used to sign-up).

    If you have trouble accessing SSU, please email seviscoordinator@berkeley.edu

    Unemployment

    Unemployment for students with Academic Training authorization is not allowed. If termination of employment is necessary, consult with an Advisor at Berkeley International Office (before the employment termnination date) to determine the best way to maintain legal status in the U.S.

    In general, students are allowed a 30-day grace period from the last date of employment or the end of the AT authorization period (whichever comes first), to depart the U.S., change status, or transfer the DS-2019 to a new program of study.

    Changing Employers

    If employment is terminated and a job offer is accepted elsewhere in the U.S., the new job must still be related to the field of study. In this case, it is required for the student to obtain a new work permit from Berkeley International Office before beginning work at the new job. Application instructions are exactly the same as when the student originally applied for the initial Academic Training work authorization. Note: There cannot be a gap in employment dates.

    Maintain Health Insurance

     J-1 students and accompanying J-2 dependents must maintain specific health insurance coverage for the entirety of the stay in the U.S. in J status, inlcuding while on Academic Training, as required by the U.S. Department of State. Click J-1 Student Health Insurance Requirements to see complete information on the required level of health insurance. Failure to maintain health insurance is a serious violation of J status.

    Travel and Re-entry While on AT

    Currently Berkeley International Office recommends minimizing international travel due to the rapidly-changing nature of U.S. immigration policy. For important information regarding current U.S. immigration policy, Executive Orders, and travel advisories please see BIO's Immigration Policy Updates & FAQ webpage.

    Travel Documents Needed

    Readmission to the U.S. as a J-1 student on Academic Training is at the discretion of the Customs and Border Patrol officer at the U.S. port of entry.  In general, a J-1 student on Academic Training who travels outside the U.S. temporarily (i.e., less than 5 months) can be readmitted to resume employment for the remainder of the period authorized on his or her work permit issued by the Berkeley International Office, provided the student presents the following:

    • A valid passport with valid J-1 visa stamp the day of entry 
    • Form DS-2019, endorsed by Berkeley International Office within the preceding 12 months (10 months recommended)
    • Proof of employment (or employment offer), usually in the form of a letter from your employer on official letterhead business stationary. 

    Getting a J-1 Visa

    If you are traveling abroad and the J-1 visa in your passport has expired, you must obtain a new one before re-entering the U.S.  Students who need to apply for a new visa should consult Berkeley International Office prior to travel to discuss the visa application process and possible risks. General information may be found on our Applying for a Visa page.

    Traveling before beginning a new program of study

    If you are planning to transfer to a new school or program after completing your Academic Training (see below), you must obtain a visa with the name of your new school noted on it before entering or re-entering the U.S. even if your J-1 visa has not yet expired. You will need the DS-2019 from your new school in order to apply for the new visa.

    Beginning a New Program of Study While on AT

    J-1 students may begin a full-time program of study while on Academic Training (AT). However, students who wish to stop working or need to extend/continue their student status in order to finish a new program should consider the following steps before the end date of their Academic Training according to their situation.

    Returning to UC Berkeley

    Students who wish to return to the school that recommended their AT will need to request a new DS-2019 for a "change of level." Please contact Berkeley International Office to speak with an International Student Advisor for information about this process.

    Attending a New School

    Students who have been admitted to a new school (different from the school that recommended AT), will need to apply for a transfer of their J-1 status to the new school. This requires the "release" of a student's electronic SEVIS record to the new school in order for a new DS-2019 to be issued. For complete instructions, see Transfer from UC Berkeley.

    Please Note: The J-1 transfer process requires close coordination between the current and new school. Advisors at both of these schools should be consulted early (before the AT expires) in order for the process to happen smoothly.

    Changing Visa Status

    Students who want to change their visa status (to an F-1 student visa or other) should speak with an International Student Advisor at Berkeley International Office. This may require traveling out of the U.S. or a lengthy application process. Students are encouraged to plan well in advance.

    Options After AT

    After AT is finished, J-1 students have a 30-day period in which to leave the U.S. Any other plans (transfer, change of status, etc) must be arranged before the end of the AT and DS-2019 end date.

    Leave U.S. with 30-day grace period

    J-1 students must leave the U.S. no more than 30 days after the end of their DS-2019 end date. After departure from the U.S., students may NOT re-enter using their J-1 visa and DS-2019 documents.

    Start a New Academic Program

    See information above about beginning a new academic program.

    Changing Status to a Work Visa (H-1B)

    The H‑1B status permits temporary employment (up to 6 years) in the U.S. for people who have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in the same or a related field as the job offered. The position offered must require professional-level skills and pay at least the minimum salary (called prevailing wage) as defined by the government. The employer must submit a petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for approval of the H-1B position. Petitions are approved on a first come, first served basis and are accepted each calendar year beginning April 1. 

    One of the first issues that will come up if you are offered an H-1B position is whether or not you are subject to the Two Year Home Country Physcial Presence Requirement. If you are subject to this rule, you must return to your country of last legal residence for two years or obtain a waiver of this requirement before you are eligible for the H-1B.

    Not all J-1s are subject to this 2-year requirement. If you are, applying for a waiver is a lengthy process and the timing is tricky. If you have a question about whether you are subject, or how and when to apply for a waiver, attend one of our workshops on the subject and then make an appointment to speak with an advisor at Berkeley International Office if you have further questions.

    212e Two Year Home Country Requirement

    Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors are subject to a two-year home country physical presence requirement. J-1 visitors "subject" to this rule must return to their country of last legal residence for two years or obtain a waiver of this requirement before they are eligible for the H (temporary employment), L (intracompany transfer), K (fiance) or Permanent Residence (Green Card) categories. Click Two-Year Physical Presence Requirement to see more information.